The Pew Center on the States provides research that speaks to the importance and significance of Early Childhood Education. This post taken directly from the research report features information on Pennsylvania’s Early Childhood Education.
Statistics that prove ECE programs are good investments for children, our nation and taxpayers
“American children are struggling to achieve. The majority of fourth or eighth graders are not proficient in both math and reading in any state. In 2009, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 25th among 34 developed countries in math and 17th in science. Pennsylvania is not immune to these challenges. Children living in 46 of the state’s counties and 21 of its largest cities are at moderately high or high risk of school failure. Early childhood investments are helping Pennsylvania close the achievement gap and produce the qualified workers the state and the nation need for a prosperous future.
Early childhood programs reach children at a critical point in brain development, and the impact is sustained long-term. Young children’s brains develop 700 synapses—neural connections that transmit information and support learning—every second.
High-quality pre-kindergarten programs, especially for at-risk children, have been shown to significantly improve children’s early literacy, language and math skills; decrease the rate of special education placements by nearly 50 percent through second grade; reduce grade repetition by as much as 33 percent through eighth grade; 8 and lower the incidence of juvenile arrests by 32 percent.
Pennsylvania’s early childhood education continuum provides quality early learning opportunities at home and in center- and school-based settings for children from birth to kindergarten entry. These programs are built upon research, quality standards and comprehensive accountability systems that document positive outcomes for children.
A body of economic research indicates that expanding state investments in early childhood education can generate impressive returns for Pennsylvania in both the short and long terms.
According to an analysis by Professor Clive Belfield of Queens College, Pennsylvania could save as much as $100 million in special education costs. This study showed that over participants’ K-12 years:
- On average, a child placed in special education costs an additional $67,500.
- A quality pre-k program available to 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s four year olds would yield savings sufficient to offset 26 percent to 31 percent of the pre-k program costs, including $68 million in reduced special education costs.”
I am extremely appreciative that Pennsylvania and other states are taking the issue of Early Childhood Education seriously. However, there is much more work to do in order to insure that our children who are currently enrolled in ECE programs are ready for their kindergarten education as well as what follows with school, home and community. The statistics on the state of Pennsylvania alone should provide evidence that it is vital we commit to an intentional design of a national ECE program.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network